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by Ann Marie Deer Owens | Sep. 16, 2016, 12:50 PM
Vanderbilt Divinity School is included among a select group of seminaries and divinity schools designated “Seminaries that Change the World” for 2016–17 by The Center for Faith and Service. The center, which partners with other groups to help young people connect their passions for service and justice with their faith, is housed at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago.
The Rev. Wayne Meisel, executive director of The Center for Faith and Service, created “Seminaries that Change the World” four years ago to act as a resource for service-minded young adults looking for ways to grow spiritually.
“Anyone seeking to change the world ought to at least consider seminary or divinity school as an option to grow personally in one’s faith and to inspire, sustain and deepen his or her commitment to neighbor, community, country and the world,” Meisel said. “Through their commitment to collaborate, this diverse group of schools named on this year’s list of Seminaries that Change the World embodies the best of faithful and justice-seeking communities.”
Schools placed on this list are recognized for offering innovative courses, programs and opportunities for students seeking to engage in social justice and service work.
“I was first attracted to the Divinity School’s history and ongoing commitment to being both a prophetic and pastoral voice in our city, state and nation,” says Emilie M. Townes, Vanderbilt Divinity School dean and the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of Womanist Ethics and Society. “Our educational mission is clear, and although the way forward is challenging, we are a school who believes in the possibilities and the will to live into them.”
Since 2009 the Divinity School has provided Imagination Grants of up to $2,500 to students seeking to engage in learning and experiences to enhance global understanding. These funds encourage individual students to enlarge their capacities in religious leadership in diverse contexts.
Vanderbilt Divinity School reaches deep within the city of Nashville and surrounding communities for its field education placements. Recent placements have included partnerships with the Nashville Food Project, Tennesseans Against the Death Penalty, Justice for Our Neighbors, Conexión Americas, Scarritt Bennett Center, Magdalene House and DeBerry Correctional Institute.
Several Divinity School courses explicitly engage the broader community, including a course taught at Riverbend Maximum Security Prison. Students and inmates learn side by side with renowned scholars such as Amy-Jill Levine, Bruce Morrill and Paul Lim.
Another course, The Church and Urban Community, explores the implications of the urban environment for the institutional life of the church, and the role that congregations can play in cities.
Meanwhile, new initiatives to address critical issues surrounding mass incarceration and fostering restorative justice will be shared at an upcoming conference, Action Summit: Restoring Justice in the City, hosted by the Cal Turner Program for Moral Leadership in the Professions.
Click here for more information about Vanderbilt Divinity School initiatives highlighted by The Center for Faith and Service.
Ann Marie Deer Owens, (615) 322-NEWS
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